SALEM - Camel Crawl participants wanted mud - they got mud.
So much so that they ended up covered like pigs in "hog heaven," especially after crawling through the aptly named obstacle, all to benefit rescued and retired animals.
"We didn't want to do what everybody else does," Forever Safe Farms director Karrin Campf said.
Thomas Christy of Austintown survives sliding through a muddy tube partway through the first ever Camel Crawl 5K Mud Run Obstacle Race held Saturday to benefit Forever Safe Farm, a non-profit facility on McCracken Road which serves as a permanent home for rescued animals. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
When someone suggested an obstacle course run as a fundraiser for the non-profit educational facility, they put together a 5K course that some participants said was more challenging and fun than any they've come across.
The Camel Crawl 5K Mud Run Obstacle Race included 14 obstacles, with lots of tunnels to crawl through, walls to climb and mud to wade through. One of the obstacles shared the name of the event - the camel crawl - and forced participants to crawl under a tarp and into a 50-foot long hole dug into the ground with two humps of dirt like the humps of a camel to crawl over before seeing sunlight again.
Many of the obstacles were named after animals who find sanctuary at the farm, such as the pot belly crawl and the 16-foot high goat hill incline. There was also a wetland quicksand marsh area.
The fundraiser took place at the Forever Safe Farm located at 3155 McCracken Road and attracted more than 100 people.
"We rescue abandoned and neglected and farm and exotic animals," Campf said.
The list of animals includes camels, kangaroos, wallabies, deer, elk, llama, coatimundi, pot belly pigs, exotic birds, dogs and cats. Campf and her husband Rob have had the farm for 10 years and gained non-profit status in 2011. They rely on donations and a corporate sponsor to operate and have started doing more fundraising.
Their mission "to provide rescued and retired animals a forever home and educate the public about the proper and healthful care of animals" is outlined on their website at www.foreversafefarm.org.
"We're not a petting zoo - we're an educational facility," she said.
Schools, groups and families come to visit and take tours to learn about the animals who live there. Forever Safe Farm is open on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May through October. The cost is $8 for adults and $6 for children.
"We try to teach kids what is a pet and what is not a pet," Campf said, stressing that some animals should not be made into pets.
Anyone wishing to donate to Forever Safe Farm can visit the website or send the donation through the mail.
She's already planning for next year's obstacle race, with even more obstacles.